With Derek Jeter a free agent after the season and speculation of his demands running amok, I decided to take a look at where Jeter might fit if for some reason he ended up leaving the Yankees (but it ain’t happening). Without getting too specific into contract details, how many teams out there would pursue Jeter in the offseason?
Stephen Drew, like his brother J.D. is somewhat of an enigma, but is a solid player whom the D-Backs would only replace if he became too expensive in arbitration. No matter what, Jeter would be much more expensive, so the Diamondbacks are out.
The Braves spend when they need to (see Derek Lowe and the offer to Burnett). After trading Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez they will have a question mark at SS for next year. They very easily could pick up Gonzalez’ $2.5 million team option for next year but without a SS of the future on the horizon they could be a fit for Jeter.
I’ve heard for years that Peter Angelos loves to make a splash, but the water in Baltimore has been calm for years. While Jeter would certainly be a splash, the odds of him staying in the AL East to go play for the Orioles are miniscule. The Orioles might be interested but Jeter won’t be.
Boston Red Sox
People think the Sox would love to stick it to the Yankees and sign Jeter but it’s not Theo’s M.O. He would have to pay a ton of money to get Jeter, and already has a shortstop that’s having a similar season in Marco Scutaro. Scutaro is signed thru 2011 with options for 2012. By then the Sox expect international free agent signee Jose Iglesias to take over and wouldn’t seem to have a place for, or the desire to pay Jeter.
With Starlin Castro around the Cubs are definitely not a fit.
Chicago White Sox
Kenny Williams loves his veterans but the other Sox don’t make much sense either. Alexei Ramirez is young, cheap, and despite his flaws, a good player who has a 3.1 bWAR and 3.5 fWAR this season.
The Reds have been a surprise team this year despite a horrendous year from Orlando Cabrera. He has a mutual option for next season so he may be back. If the Reds are looking to upgrade and build on this year’s success, it’s possible they would take a shot at Jeter (and I don’t mean that as “taking a shot at Jeter”).
After a breakout 2009 Asdrubal Cabrera has struggled with injuries and the bat this year, but isn’t going anywhere, and besides, Jeter would have no interest in joining the Indians at the end of his career. He’s not at Jake Taylor status quite yet.
Troy Tulowitzki. Next.
Jeter grew up in Michigan and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch loves to open up the wallet, which will be even easier with Magglio Ordonez coming off the books. The Tigers have had a black hole at SS all season so would have no problems fitting Jeter right in. While Detroit is certainly not New York, the Tigers, to me, would be the biggest threat if Jeter ever is truly on the market. Things line up quite nicely for both Jeter and the Tigers.
Even if they didn’t have Hanley they would never pony up the money.
Shades of Pettitte and Clemens heading off to Houston? With Tommy Manzella and his .523 OPS holding down the fort at SS, the Astros certainly have a need, but there would be no reason for Jeter to consider heading to such a poor franchise.
Kansas City Royals
Maybe if Jeter was a first baseman with pop and no on-base skills the Royals might be interested. He’s not, but even if the Royals wanted Jeter, I’m sure the interest wouldn’t be mutual. Besides Yuniesky Betancourt has a higher bWAR than Jeter this year anyway (I checked 5 times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating).
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Artie Moreno isn’t afraid to open up the checkbook but the Angels really like Erick Aybar. He’s having a down year with the bat but is regarded as a very strong fielder (despite a slightly negative UZR this year). I could see Jeter having some interest in the Angels, but I don’t think the Angels would have interest in Jeter.
Los Angeles Dodgers
If Mr. Torre wasn’t heading out the door this one might have a stronger chance. While Jeter may respect Don Mattingly from his time in pinstripes, I think Torre would truly have been a draw to L.A. With the McCourts’ messy divorce changing the budget daily, it’s tough to say whether they would be in on Jeter if he became available. Even if the interest was mutual, the Dodgers already have Rafael Furcal locked into 2011 with and option for 2012 that vests with 600 PA’s (no sure thing for Furcal these days). While on the surface it seems like a fit, I don’t see any way it would happen.
The Brewers are set with Alcides Escobar and there’s no way Jeter would head off to Milwaukee to finish his career.
The Twins have been on a spending spree the past few years but this wouldn’t happen. JJ Hardy is under team control through 2011, and while he’s not that good, the extra cost of Jeter would be too rich for the Twins’ blood. I also doubt Jeter would have much interest in going to Minny and playing second fiddle (in a small market no less).
New York Mets
Because it makes no sense you can’t rule out Omar Minaya (if still employed) being interested in Jeter. Jose Reyes hasn’t been great this year but has likely played well enough to have his 2011 $11 million team option picked up. It makes a lot more sense to have Reyes at 1 year/$11 million than whatever Jeter would cost. Again, the odds are slim, but the Mets just might be dumb enough to try and sign Jeter to make a splash, more than to help them on the field.
Jeter isn’t a fit here. Cliff Pennington is cheap, not an automatic out with the bat and strong defensively. He’s been worth 2.9 bWAR and 2.7 fWAR this year for $405k. No reason to change it up here.
No reason to mess with “the greatest infield of all time” in Philly. Well, of course it’s no the greatest of all time, but with Jimmy Rollins locked up for 2011 Jeter doesn’t fit.
I think Jeter would rather stay in New York for the minimum than sign with the Pirates.
San Diego Padres
Jed Hoyer learned under Theo, and like Theo I don’t think he would have any interest in Jeter at the market rate. While the Padres don’t have anything set in stone at the position for 2011 it doesn’t seem to be a fit for either side. San Diego is nice, but I don’t see Jeter wanting to chase 3000+ hits in Petco.
San Francisco Giants
Juan Uribe has been ok this year in San Fran but is a free agent after the season. He’s certainly a possibility to return, but the Giants have been willing to open up the checkbook. Brian Sabean usually brings in position players when they are past their primes, so Jeter could be a fit by the Bay.
The Mariners this offseason prided themselves on defense, and while it hasn’t quite worked as hoped, I doubt they would want to sign a SS to a multi-year deal heading into his age 37 season. Considering how poor their offense has been though, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to sacrifice some defense at SS. They do have Jack Wilson signed at $5 million for 2011, and would have to eat most of that if they wanted to move him. Adding close to $5 million to Jeter’s pricetag doesn’t seem very likely though.
St. Louis Cardinals
On the field the Cardinals could be a fit as Brendan Ryan has been awful in 2010. Opening the wallet for Jeter is a problem however. After blowing away the market overpaying for Matt Holliday and with upcoming contract negotiations for Albert Pujols, the Cardinals will be watching every penny. Throwing $10-$15 million/year at a 37 year old shortstop isn’t likely to happen. The Cardinals will likely just hope Ryan can return to his 2009 form, which produced 2.7fWAR and 3.4 bWAR.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays certainly aren’t a fit financially and despite Jason Bartlett’s fall from his great 2009 they are fine with him going forward. Bartlett could go if he becomes too expensive in arbitration, but the Rays wouldn’t replace him with someone more expensive anyway, so Jeter’s a no go here.
I’d say the Rangers are plenty happy with Elvis Andrus, so no room for Jeter.
Toronto Blue Jays
Not a fit here as the Jays will likely let Yunel Escobar hold down the fort until Cuban signee Adeiny Hechavarria is ready.
Washington Natinals Nationals
The Nationals are set at SS with young and cheap Ian Desmond who has produced 1.5 bWAR and 1.5 fWAR for $400k this year. He’s not going anywhere.
So there we have it. Of the other 29 teams in baseball I only see one team that makes a ton of sense for Jeter (the Tigers) and a few others that might be a fit (Braves, Reds, Mets, Giants, Mariners). While the last thing I want to happen is for the negotiations to get publicly contentious, I definitely think the Yankees have the upper hand when it comes to leverage. No matter what, I can see almost no scenario in which Jeter isn’t back in the pinstripes next year.